The Duke University flag was lowered to half-staff on Tuesday, October 13 in honor of a beloved member of the Duke Anesthesiology family, Dr. Ernestine Friedl, who passed away in her home at the age of 95.
Many in our department knew Dr. Friedl as the wife of the late Dr. Merel Harmel, the founding chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology, but she certainly created a lasting legacy of her own. Dr. Friedl joined the Duke family in 1973 as the chairwoman of the Department of Cultural Anthropology and went on to become Duke’s first female dean of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. During her tenure as dean, the Women’s Studies Program at Duke was created, reflecting her passion for women’s initiatives. Nationally, Dr. Friedl was one of the most noted scholars in her field. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1976 and served as president of the American Ethnological Society in 1967 and on the board of the National Science Foundation. In 1970, she participated in the Committee on the Status of Women in Anthropology as part of the American Anthropological Association, later serving as its president from 1974 to 1975. Dr. Friedl retired as James B. Duke Professor Emerita but maintained her strong connections with Duke faculty and our department.
Dr. Friedl’s legacy of strength, academia and humanity, highlighted in this article published by Duke Today, will continue to surround us here at Duke. Our condolences go out to Dr. Friedl’s family and friends. A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, October 23 at 3 p.m. at the Baldwin Auditorium. A reception will follow in the Friedl Buildling.